This post is part of an extended Open Letter to the Iowa State Auditor.
While naming physical structures after human beings is a time-honored tradition in many cultures around the world, in no context is that tradition more lampooned and maligned than in higher education in the United States. For every alumnus whose life work materially changed society for the better — and was thus deserving of genuine recognition — there are a hundred who merely lined their pockets with the fruits of their degrees, if not also contributed to society’s ills in the process. Because colleges and universities are always looking for ready sources of revenue, however, any alumnus with a bulging bank account can, with the right crony connections and the right number of zeroes, buy the naming rights to a prominent edifice on campus, thus purchasing outright the reverence that others earned with their good works. [ Read more ]